New York — A pickup driver killed eight people in New York on Tuesday, mowing down cyclists and pedestrians in the city’s first deadly “act of terror” since September 11, 2001.
Eleven others were seriously hurt when the truck driver struck in broad daylight just blocks from the 9/11 Memorial, on the West Side of Lower Manhattan, close to schools as children and their parents geared up to celebrate Halloween.
“This was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Law enforcement sources identified the perpetrator as Sayfullo Saipov, 29. He was arrested in Missouri on a traffic violation last year.
The Uzbek citizen living in Tampa, Florida, had recently been staying in New Jersey, where the truck was rented, reports said.
President Donald Trump denounced him as “very sick” and a “deranged person.”
Confronting what could be the most serious terror-related incident since taking power less than a year ago, the Republican commander-in-chief announced that he had ordered the Department of Homeland Security to step up his “extreme vetting program” on foreign travelers to the country.
The United States “must not” allow Islamic State group jihadists to “return, or enter” the country after being defeated overseas, Trump said, albeit as New York officials declined to link the assailant to a specific group.
Trump has sought to ban travelers from several mainly Muslim nations from coming to the US, a move he casts as necessitated by security considerations and critics say is anti-Muslim.
His efforts have been repeatedly struck down in the courts, and Ubzekistan was in any case not among the affected countries.
Police said the attacker drove a rented Home Depot pickup down a bike and pedestrian lane, where tourists and New Yorkers were out enjoying brilliant fall sunshine, at 3:05 p.m., before colliding with a school bus, wounding two adults and two children.
The suspect then exited the vehicle brandishing weapons that were subsequently identified as a paintball gun and pellet gun, before being shot in the abdomen by a police officer and taken into custody, police said.